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tv   DW News  PBS  December 27, 2017 6:00pm-6:31pm PST

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♪ sarah: this is "dw news," coming to you live from berlin. a reprieve for dozens of gravely ill people in a syrian town battered by years of war. among them, children who urgently need medical treatment. a syrian aid agency brokered by -- the deal between the government and rebels in a besieged area east of damascus. also coming up, a large exchange of prisoners between pro-russian separatists and ukrainian government is underway in the east of the country. why is it happening now? and a very unusual congress gets underway in leipzig as german
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y's digital activists hold their annual get-together in a clandestine setting. ♪ sarah: welcome to the program. my name is sarah harman. thank you for joining us. aid workers in syria have begun evacuating 29 critically ill people from a besieged rebel town in eastern ghouta. the evacuations were part of an agreement between the syrian government and rebels. the u.n. has drawn up a list of some 500 people to be evacuated from the damascus suburb. it faces severe shortages of food, fuel and medicine as winter approaches. reporter: for this little girl, it's not just the end of a nightmare, it's a chance to stay alive. she was one of the first of almost 30 critically ill people evacuated from eastern ghouta.
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for weeks, international aid organizations have been calling on syrian president bashar al-assad to allow hundreds of people in desperate need of medical attention to leave the besieged suburb. tuesday night saw the first of them get into ambulances and leave. >> where they are in ghouta there have been no medical supplies for months. children are dying of malnutrition. it is an absolutely shocking state. so, a small glimmer of hope that there are 29 desperately ill children who should start receiving medical attention very soon. reporter: syrian government forces have laid siege to the eastern part of ghouta for the last four years now. not far from the capital damascus, it is one of the last rebel strongholds in the country. activists accuse government forces of trying to starve out any government resistance by blocking out deliveries. the u.n. says dozens of people
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have died in the suburb, after waiting for months for medical evacuation. turkey claims it used its clout for the latest deal. but president recep tayyip -- >> first of all it is impossible to continue with assad. why? how can we embrace a future with a syrian president who has killed close to a million of his citizens? reporter: it looks like these evacuees have escaped death for now. but the fate of hundreds of thousands of others in eastern ghouta hangs in the balance, and there is still no sign of a breakthrough in talks to end the syrian civil war. sarah: i am joined now from turkey by mohamad katoub. he is with the syrian american medical society which supports hospitals and mostly opposition areas. thank you for being with us.
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are the evacuations proceeding smoothly, or is this too little too late? mohamad: exactly, thank you. this is too late and very minor evacuations. it is only four people who were evacuated last night from a list of 29 people who were pulled from a bigger list of 640 who need medical evacuations from the area. and unfortunately all the talks about humanitarian operation in this area tends only for medical evacuation, while 400,000 people are in need of basic needs like food and medication and vaccinations. there are 130,000 children in school, but at least half of them cannot reach the school because of the siege and of the bombardment of the area. the evacuation issue started months ago when the syrian
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regime tightened the siege on the area so people could not have any access to go out of the area to have complicated treatment, which is already not available. not full medicines inside, and for the 107 doctors in the area treating people to give to their patients. this group of services that we -- sarah: you're describing a really grim situation. the u.n. has a list of 500, possibly more people need to be evacuated from ghouta but only 29 are being evacuated in this round. are there going to be more evacuations? how optimistic are you? mohamad: we don't have high hopes on this because this issue is stuck in some place months ago where a syrian government is not giving any approval for the medical evacuation. very few cases were evacuated and everyone for some reason.
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and those 29 people are a good example of those reasons. this is a deal between the syrian government and one of the group, including releasing of detainees by the opposition armed group. so we don't have any hopes that people will be evacuated for humanitarian reasons, just to get the treatment that they deserve. sarah: how exactly did this current deal come about? because what you are describing sounds like a prisoner swap. mohamad: exactly. we don't have a lot of information about how the government and this armed group reached this deal. but the 29 -- the list of the 29 patients was submitted two months ago to the u.n. and those were considered at that time as very urgent cases who needed to be evacuated immediately. this took two months where the
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conditions were completely different and one of them died. while on the other side, we don't have information about the deal, but as you said, at the end they also have the right to be released. sarah: thanks for joining us this evening. mohamad: thank you. thank you very much. sarah: an explosion has ripped through a supermarket in the russian city of st. petersburg. authorities say at least 10 people were injured. the homemade device containing 200 grams of explosives was traced to a baggage locker. investigators say it was rigged with shrapnel to cause more damage. no one has claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred in the northwest of the city center. u.s. secretary of state rex tillerson has expressed concern about the rising level of violence in eastern ukraine. during a phone conversation he asked his russian counterpart sergey lavrov to make efforts to
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lower the bloodshed in the region. it comes as pro-russian separatists carry out a prisoner exchange. kiev has handed over 306 captives to the rebels and received 74 prisoners in return. it's being called the largest prisoner exchange in the eastern ukraine conflict. david stern is in kiev. david, this is the first major prisoner exchange in over a year. why is it happening now? david: it's a good question. this could be -- it's obviously a sign of progress. the only question is how big a sign of progress it is. this is a very large exchange, as you said. in fact, the exchange has been completed now. what we are being told is that all 74 of the ukrainians are now on their way back to kiev where they will actually be greeted by crowds going to the main airport just outside the capital.
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and on the rebel side, on the russian-backed rebel side, fewer than were originally reported. the ukrainians are saying about 43 have decided to stay in ukraine. but again, the question is, why is this happening now? obviously this is a sign of progress, but the fighting is still continuing in the east. and as you said at the top, there is concern about the level of fighting right now. sarah: u.s. secretary of state rex tillerson has asked russia to clamp down on the violence in eastern ukraine. so, is it fair to say this conflict is heating back up? david: well, this is the question right now. it has definitely heated up over the last week or two weeks. whether this is a temporary surge which we sometimes see before ceasefires, could be a possibility, or it could be something much more serious. obviously the international is community is watching closely.
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not just secretary of state tillerson, but emmanuel macron and angela merkel made statements over the weekend. what they are hoping for is a cease-fire for the holiday season, which they hope will prove to be more lasting. sarah: so world leaders are watching this very closely. david, put this in context for us. what does this all mean for the peace process? david: we will see exactly what the momentum is. whether we will see more exchanges in the coming weeks, or perhaps months. there have been indications or some statements by the rebels, and we will see what exactly comes from this in the bigger picture, whether there is going to be a larger agreement between russia, the united states and ukraine. sarah: david stern reporting from kiev for us. thank you. here's a look at other stories making news around the world right now. russian opposition leader alexei
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navalny says he is organizing a nationwide rally on the 28th of january in support of his boycott of next year's presidential election. the country's election commission has barred the kremlin critic from standing in the march vote. south korea says the comfort women row with japan is unresolved. that's despite the two countries having reached a deal in 2015. officials in seoul say the agreement over south korean women who were forced to work in japan's wartime brothels fails to meet the needs of the victims. the french coast guard has rescued a polish sailor who says he spent seven months drifting in a broken down boat. the 54-year-old was discovered near a french island. he said he set sail for south africa from the islands back in may.
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some call them computer nerds, some call them digital cyber security experts. either way these guys are holding an annual conference this week in leipzig. daniel: if they are nerds, they are the highest class nerds. the chaos computer club has been keeping tabs on surveillance, privacy and data security issues are over 30 years. its annual meet ups have grown ever larger. the leipzig event is no different. the latest cyber threats and data privacy issues top the agenda. you might notice looking at the pictures, the lighting is dim, because unusually for events like this, nobody wants to be in the light. reporter: events at leipzig's trade fair still usually have such a clandestine line and secretive field. -- feel. it's the first time the venue is hosting a convention by europe's biggest hacker group with visitors from across the world.
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>> i want to learn as much as possible. >> the internet, security and society. my head will probably explode while i'm here, i hope. reporter: the array of cctv cameras normally used to track visitors has been turned off. hackers are not exactly keen on being watched. surveillance is high on the agenda. the organizers opposed a facial recognition system recently reduced at a berlin train station, despite it being aimed at preventing terrorist attacks. >> if surveillance becomes as intense off-line as it already is online, then soon there will be no place left where you can have any privacy. reporter: the event will also be tackling issues such as security loopholes on smart phones and computers. the chaos communication congress in leipzig ends on saturday. daniel: and hot on santa's heels, amazon employees at the major distribution center here
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in germany are going on strike. they are unhappy about pay and have been for the past four years, striking several times over that period. the union says they should be paid the same as retail workers. amazon argues that their employees are more of a logistics firm, saying these strikes will not interrupt deliveries. the industrial action will continue until the end of saturday. let's go to china now, and all week we are looking at the new silk road. its namesake was an agent trade route which ran from china to the rest of asia and beyond. the chinese government is investing hundreds of billions in infrastructure projects to resurrect that trade route on land and on water as well. today we are stopping in africa. since 2005, the chinese have invested $66 billion across the continent. that makes them the largest investors there. they are pumping money into
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the construction of harbors, roads, and railways. in may this year, and new rail way line opened in kenya, linking the port of mombasa to the capital nairobi. soon the line will be extended all the way to lake victoria. the total price tag -- $8 billion u.s. even though kenya needs massive infrastructure investment, the railway agreement with china raises many questions. reporter: there's no effort spared to keep trains on the new nairobi link looking spic and span. but they are not just in infrastructure project -- they are important to the image of progress that kenya wants to project. that includes the polished presentation of the train staff at rollcall. the 472 kilometers of railway line cost around 3.5 billion euros. the chinese state put up most of the capital. chinese companies laid the tracks and delivered around 60
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diesel locomotives and 1700 carriages. >> the opening of this artery of communications in eastern africa is a great achievement of the friendship between china and kenya in the new era. it is also the crystallization of the win-win in mutually beneficial cooperation between china and kenya. reporter: this stretch is just a beginning. there are big plans afoot for expanding kenya's rail network. this line links the capital with east africa's most important port. the transport of goods should become much cheaper. the new link, have to travel time. passenger tickets cost around -- half the travel time. passenger tickets cost around eight euros. foreign contracts for the massive projects have also raised questions. there was no transparent tender process and there is talk of corruption. critics say kenya is being sold obsolete technology at an exorbitant price on credit, which has to be paid back at high interest rates. >> african leaders think china is santa claus.
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they are not santa claus. they want returns on their investment. we have already had a levy on each liter of fuel sold in kenya. there is a levy going towards the repayment of that loan. now, this is more sophisticated banking than china has been known for. they have got a fantastic return and they have got security, they own and run and manage the whole thing. reporter: there have been plenty of protests against the project. the route passes directly to the nairobi national park and threatens the nature reserve's existence. but the protests have had little effect. in kenya, the chinese are pressing ahead and in uganda they are building another rail connection. china's grand plan is to link them all, carving out a new trade network and new markets for chinese goods. daniel: staying in africa,
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to liberia, where voters are waiting for the results of yesterday's elections. sarah: it's a result that could see the first democratic transition in the country in over 70 years. a little while ago u.n. secretary-general antonio guterres hailed the quote, peaceful conduct of the vote. counting is still going on at the national tally center. preliminary results were expected this evening, but that announcement was canceled. official results are due on thursday. voters had the choice between a senator george weah, former world footballer of the year and the incumbent vice president joseph boakai. weah topped the first round of voting with boakai coming in second, but neither secured the 50% needed to win outright. and so the election headed to a runoff. weah is a favorite with many young liberians and his supporters think he has is in the bag. >> i'd be happy. i'd be happy. because it would mean the
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election is fair. it is free and fair and transparent. we all went to the palace yesterday. we saw the whole process. i'm very happy with it. i know my next leader will be george weah. sarah: for more let's go to the capital monrovia, where our correspondent is standing by. evelyn, we as supporters say he is the winner. is it a done deal? >> the commission has not officially announced anyone as the winner, but what is happening is preliminary results are coming up from polling places.
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the indicate clearly that -- they indicate clearly that weah has taken most of the vote. but the election commission have not announced a winner for now. sarah: the winner, whoever it is, will succeed the president who won the nobel prize for helping to secure peace after liberia's back-to-back civil wars. what does weah want to do that's she did not? >> during the campaign period, george weah had said -- she admitted repeatedly that she did not succeed in fighting corruption. also the issue of reconciliation.
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[inaudible] he also talked about the issue of poverty. george weah is there for the young people. how will he go about doing it? he has not talked about how he will go about it. the issue of poverty is very high among liberians. almost half the population lives on $1 a day. sarah: thank you very much for reporting for us from monrovia. staying in africa, we head to guinea now, where many young people attempt a dangerous land and sea journey to europe. those who don't make it and return home face the challenge of rebuilding their lives.
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in our next report we show how a project near the capital is helping them reintegrate into the society they tried to leave behind. reporter: it's early morning on a chicken farm. he is working for a project for returned migrants. he himself tried to reach europe last year but he only made it as far as niger. he saw many of his friends die along the way. and he was tortured by people smugglers and thrown in jail. after he was released, the international organization for migration, or iom, flew him back home. >> after i returned, many people made fun of me because i didn't make it. but i felt relieved. i am back home now and no one is oppressing me. i am living well. in niger, we had problems with the military and we were discriminated against. reporter: a total of 300 people work for the eu-funded project
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which was launched by the iom and a local ngo. the most important aspect -- its members are made up of an equal number of returnees and local residents. that is to ensure there is no resentment. women also play a crucial role in the reintegration of the returnees. >> our own children are not among the returnees. but these young people could easily be our children. that's y we take care of them. reporter: soon the first chickens and eggs will be sold. with 300 participants, though, the first payment will probably be low. but at least they will earn some income. many young guineans have lost hope. well-paying jobs are hard to find and there are not enough career options. for many, escaping to europe seems like the only way out. so the local job office and the iom have interviewed young people. >> the interviews helped us determine who is most likely to
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leave the country illegally. we then selected them for a total of 21 projects such as the and now we are supporting them. reporter: other young people will hopefully be spared by these terrible experiences. he now lives with relatives and is studying political science. for now at least, he has given up his dream of going to europe. >> all of my friends warned me before i left, but i had to experience it for myself to believe them. all i would say to my friends now is, do not even try. it destroys you. even if you do survive, you either feel so ashamed or you go crazy. reporter: it is not clear whether he can really stop his friends from leaving. the iom estimates around 15,000 guineans are still waiting to be repatriated. sarah: now imagine coming home from work to find a huge baboon
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trashing your kitchen. that nightmare is real for many people in south africa's cape peninsula, where baboons often break into homes to rummage for food. but now a new method of deterrence could put an end to the monkey business once and for all. reporter: a baboon burglary. in south africa's cape peninsula, people versus primate is an almost daily occurrence thanks to brazen baboons in search of their next meal. pay reilly has seen her fair share of the monkey business. >> there are a lot of them in cape town and they are coming to your house and they make an awful mess and you just have to live with it, but it is not too bad. they had been in my house quite often. they are not aggressive, i don't find them aggressive. and they're not really interested in you.
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they are looking for food, that's what they are looking for. reporter: to drive the monkeys out of urban areas, conservationists from the human wildlife solutions organization have been testing a new strategy. gps collars are used to track the baboon's movements. once the pesky primates get close to town, out come the boomboxes. >> you play calls pretending there are predators there, alarm calls, sounds of predators, sounds of animals being killed. there scared to go there. you add a few bangs, that reinforces the scariness, and they avoid the area. reporter: with the help of predators such as lions, leopards and hyenas, the aim is to create what they call a landscape of fear. an imaginary boundary that the monkeys do not dare to cross. for villages nearby, it is music to their ears. >> we have noticed in the last
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two weeks since this team arrived with what they call the virtual fence, we have had literally no baboons for the last two weeks. we have been saying, is our imagination or are there no suddenly baboons? but there are no baboons. reporter: at stake is the region's famed baboon population. until recently the cheeky monkeys would have been shot. following positive results, the plan is to now roll of the system another cape town suburbs, hopefully ensuring fewer and fewer light fingered friends are killed unnecessarily. sarah: thanks for watching. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] íhh?dñ'óóóóóy
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(dramatic music) - [narrator] the european union is under severe strain. from the collateral damage of brexit to an influx of migrants and the eurozone debt crisis. the eu is facing an existential threat to the political and economic block. the possibility of individual nations choosing to leave the eu has only fueled the debate. will this crisis spark reform, making the eu stronger than ever? or does it signal the beginning of the breakup? the european union, next on great decisions. (triumphant music) - [man] great decisions is produced by the foreign policy association in association with thomson reuters, funding for great decisions is provided by price water house coopers llp.

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